Thursday, November 30, 2006

Big Money And Fame Could Be Yours!

I've posted a couple of song-poems on this site (most recently the seasonal favorite "Santa Claus Goes Modern," which has been covered by Yo La Tengo). I had assumed the song-poem phenomena died out sometime in the early eighties. Maybe it did, but browsing eBay today I found a song-poem auction. It's kind of amusing to me that the seller gives the same promises of fame and fortune as the song-poem factories of old, although his tounge seems firmly planted in cheek:

WILL YOU BE FAMOUS? Send it to your local DJ, friends or family. If your song becomes famous, YOU get all the glory and all the fame, all the women and all the money! If you ever have wanted to write a song about a person, place, thing, feeling, idea, accomplishment, longing, whatever it is, let it be a song. Just supply the poem!


I'm considering bidding. As a joke, I once wrote some lyrics to a song that I considered sending to Redd Kross (never got around to that). It was called "Boy in a Bubble" inspired by the John Travolta TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. I probably lost the lyrics years ago though. They were pretty funny from what I remember. I could then post the resulting song here. (Of course I am too lazy to really do this).

Early Parliament

Parliament's first album, Osmium (1970), doesn't fit in neatly with the rest of their catalogue. It doesn't sound much like the slick, pop-oriented funk that would characterize later Parliament albums starting in 1974 with Up For the Downstroke. But neither does it sound exactly like the full-on freaky psychedelic/funk hybrid Clinton and company would create under the Funkadelic moniker starting the same year.

On the whole this sounds more like a Funkadelic record than a Parliament one, but with greater emphasis on the funky than the freaky. I don't think George Clinton quite had the master plan nailed down in 1970, and this sounds like an embryonic version of what would follow. But that in no way detracts from the overall quality of the record itself. The album starts with a version of "I Call My Baby Pussycat" that is funkier and superior to the one that was re-recorded by Funkadelic for America Eats It's Young, and contains other hit-worthy tracks like "My Automobile," "Funky Woman," and "Nothing Before Me But Thang." It also has the hilarious "Little Old Country Boy" which is unlike anything else in Clinton's catalogue.

The album was originally released on Invictus, a label formed by the Holland/Dozier/Holland team after they split from Motown in 1968. "Invictus" is Latin for "unconquered" and also the title of a poem by William Ernest Henley with an interesting history, and like the P-Funk phenomena itself, reflects the spreading influence of the black-power movement at the dawn of the 70s. Osmium has been reissued numerous times, under numerous titles, by numerous labels, sometimes with bonus tracks, sometimes without. As far as I can tell, the bonus tracks haven't been on an in-print edition of the album for years, which is too bad because they were taken from singles that were just as good as anything on the album proper if not better. Here is one of them--this is some funky stuff.

Esquivel Space Age Xmas

The "lounge revival" of the 1990s was annoying. There is no getting around that. Perhaps it (along with twee-pop) was a reaction against grunge music. But it was annoying nonetheless, although I am not exactly sure why I think so.

That said, I actually like Esquivel, The Three Suns and some other hipster-lounge favorites, and of course I have a fondness for stereo-demo records. Perhaps part of my discomfort with the 1990s revival of interest in this kind of music is my assumption that the phenomena was rooted in hipster irony. Although I have no real justification for thinking that; if my affection for the music is genuine why shouldn't I be charitable enough to assume other's is as well?

In 1996 BarNone released an Esquivel Christmas album, merry xmas from the space age bachelor pad, that combined six songs from a 1959 RCA Christmas sampler with some stray tracks from other albums that marginally fit the holiday theme, in addition to two newly-recorded tracks played by Combustible Edison with an elderly Esquivel doing voice-over. The album is now out-of-print and fetching a pretty penny in the Amazon.com Marketplace.

The Holidays are the perfect time for this sort of good natured music. I'd like to see Irwin Chusid *(who produced a number of lounge-music reissues, and did much to re-popularize the genre on his radio show on WFMU) put together a Space-Age Pop Christmas collection. I'm sure there is a lot of worthhile Holiday material in this genre out there beyond Esquivel, but I don't have the patience to scrounge yard sales and dumpster-dive to find the worthwile stuff among the garbage (Christmas records are among the most common records found at yard sales).

Here are two of the better tracks from the CD, full of Esquivel's trademark "zu, zus." Both of these songs originally appeared on the 1959 Christmas sampler, and would no doubt be as effective in adding some zing to a Holiday party as spiking the eggnog with LSD.

*Looking a Chusid's website, despite his skill as a producer, author and DJ, his politics stink. It makes me wonder if perhaps there is there something inherently reactionary about the whole lounge-music revival and interest in "outsider music," and that is the reason I feel slightly uncomfortable with it. I don't think so actually...I'm probably just over-thinking things again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Santa Claus Goes Modern

Songs that have Santa Claus piloting something other than his traditional flying sleigh are a mini holiday music subgenre in their own right. Here are three very different examples. "Santa Claus Goes Modern" comes from the Beat of the Traps song-poem compilation and puts Santa behind the wheel of a flying saucer. This amazing song is featured in two different versions on the American Song Poem Christmas compilation from BarNone. I highly recommend this album because whether you are a Gentile, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Athiest, Agnostic, or something else altogether, no Holiday season is complete without hearing songs like "Santa Came On a Nuclear Missile," "Maury, The Christmas Mouse," and "Rocking Disco Santa Claus." The movie Off the Charts, about the song-poem industry, is next up in my Netflix queue because I really want to hear from the amazing minds who created this stuff. This music is not at all "bad," it's fascinating.

"Santa Done Got Hip," which can be found on the Rhino Hipster's Holiday compilation, also puts the jolly old elf in a flying saucer, and The Untamed Youth put him behind the wheel of a hot-rod for "Santa's Gonna Shut 'em Down."

The Bats

More Kiwi-pop. The Bats were the band Robert Scott formed after the breakup of The Clean, and he continued putting out music with that band through The Clean's many reunions. In fact, The Bats just released a new album last year. I don't think it would be difficult to argue that The Bats ended up being the best of the post-Clean efforts (including the reunions).

This song originally appeared on The Bats second EP, And Here Is "Music For the Fireside"! The Bats early singles and EPs have a more low-fi, homespun feel than the material that would emerge on their later LPs, but the material is just as good. Most of the early EP and single material was compiled on the Compiletely Bats CD, but that is now out-of-print and hard to find. The CD makes for a very good Bats album and is well worth picking up if you find a copy.

I have no idea what a "Chicken Bird Run" is. Maybe in New Zealand people take their chickens out to chicken runs much as Americans take their dogs to dog runs. I imagine it would be a nice place for chickens to socialize and maybe get a little exercise. Perhaps someone with a better knowledge of local New Zealand customs could fill me in. Anyway, despite not knowing what this song is about, I like it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Daddy's Drinking Up Our Christmas

"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" gave Country Christmas novelty numbers a bad name. Here are two less-heard, but much better ones. "Daddy's Drinking Up Our Christmas" by Commander Cody could have been written by my son was it not for the fact that he is four and his father doesn't really drink much.

I have a real soft spot for George Jones novelty numbers. The story behind "My Mom and Santa Claus" is as follows: Jones was being pitched Christmas songs by a bunch of Nashville songwriters and wasn't too pleased with what he had heard so far. "Don't any of you have a twistin' Santa Claus song or something?" he asked. According to legend, Clyde Beavers ran out of the room and came back two hours later with this gem, before the pitch session was even over.

I imagine that story is about 80% accurate. This likely wasn't a tough song to write. Mix one part "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with "The Race Is On" add a dash of "The Twist" and viola! A Holiday standard beloved by generations. Or maybe not, but in a sense the machine-like production pace and rationalized division of labor in 60s Nashville is part of its charm, and like Hollywood during the studio era it's great strength. Maybe not everything created by the system was great, but the percentage of great stuff was likely no lower than any other means of song production, and lots of reliable generic filler was created to fill out albums. And some of that filler, like this song, have a special charm all their own.

And is it just me, or are all these "I caught Mommy with Santa Claus" songs on some level about the trauma suffered by a child who walks in on the primal scene?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

All I Got For Xmas Was Doug E. Fresh

Happy Thanksgiving. As promised, here is the first installment of holiday music. I promised offerings secular, sacred and profane. Obviously I'm going to start with the profane.

I have written before about how certain songs take you back to a particular place and time. Hearing The Treacherous Three (Kool Moe Dee, Special K & DJ Easy E), and special guest Doug E. Fresh kickin' it old-school on "Xmas Rap" makes me feel like it's 1984 and I'm waiting for wrestling practice at Annapolis High School, watching the Tiggs brothers break-dance. They don't write them like this anymore. This is the so-called "X-Rated" version and contains plenty of cursing, but is also hilarious and has a social message that cuts deep: the observations on how economic status effect one's perception of the holidays are just as relevant today as they were in 1984.

"Back Door Santa" on the other hand has no socially redeeming qualities, and though it has no cursing, it is an absolutely filthy song, full of barely disguised double-entendres. I don't know how Clarence Carter got away with this. This is probably my all-time favorite Christmas song.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Great Unwashed

After Kiwi-pop legends The Clean broke up, the brothers Kilgour formed The Great Unwashed, essentially a more lo-fi version of The Clean without Robert Scott (who had gone on to form The Bats). The Great Unwashed released an EP and some singles that were eventually compiled on the unimaginatively titled Collection. It's hard to think of The Great Unwashed as anything other than a footnote to The Clean's more storied history, but the music holds up well on its own.

The Clean went on to record a number of reunion albums starting with 1990's Vehicle. Most of these albums are good, but by this point The Clean were more of a Kiwi-pop supergroup than a functioning band, and the albums lack the inspiration that marked the original Clean (and The Great Unwashed).

Welcome Samuel Paul Devin

Congratulations to Anne Flounders and Pete Devin on the birth of their first child:

SAMUEL PAUL DEVIN
November 21, 2006, 11:02 AM
8 lbs, 3 oz
21.5 inches

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Peter Case

It's hard for me to believe this seminal album is out-of-print. The kind of slicked-up roots music on Peter Case's solo debut would eventually become known as "Americana," a programming staple of public-radio stations like WFUV in New York City, but in 1986 this combination of folk, blues, country, and rock with contemporary pop touches sounded very fresh. There must have been something in the air in 1986 because around the same time Elvis Costello abandoned the "new-wave" sound of Goodbye Cruel World for a similarly rootsy mixture on King of America (like Peter Case produced by T-Bone Burnett), the Pouges were creating a comparable hybrid of Irish folk and punk rock (Case ends this album with a cover of the Shane McGowan penned "Pair of Brown Eyes"), and Suzanne Vega would have a huge hit with "Luka" the following year. This rush of acoustic-based roots music was memorably dubbed "the 'coustic revival" by a particularly drug damaged record store clerk at the Annapolis Record and Tape Exchange.

It probably came as something of a shock to hear Case, who had spent the last 10 years playing revved-up power-pop in The Plimsouls and The Nerves, come out with something so folksy. But in a sense Case was only getting back to his roots, he grew up worshipping both Woody Guthrie and The Beatles, and when Jack Lee talked him into forming The Nerves with Paul Collins, Case had been performing as a folk singer. It also helped that he delivered the strongest and most consistent set of songs in his career up to that point (The Plimsouls were great, but the albums do have some filler).

"Steel Strings" was the big alt-radio hit off this album, but nearly all the tracks are memorable. I chose the Van Dyke Parks arranged "Small Town Spree," a nice bit of narrative song writing. Someone should reissue this album with bonus-tracks; I bet there's some killer demo tracks out there.

The War On Happy Holidays

I don't need another reason to be pissed off at the religious right, but I have one: they have freakin' ruined Christmas for me. They have taken a season that used to be fun, and is supposed to be about peace on earth, brotherhood of man and all that jazz, and turned it into yet another orgy of xenophobia and intolerance. Well done.

I am of course referring to the fact that I can no longer innocently wish someone "Happy Holidays" without fearing that I will raise the ire of some wack-job fundie who thinks I hate the Baby Jesus. Last year I wished a guy "Happy Holidays" and after he stared at me for a few seconds he literally snarled back the words "Merry Christmas!" Lighten up already pal! And please stop listening to Bill O'Reilly. The people behind the "Merry Christmas NOT Happy Holidays" campaign are the same twisted hatemongers who would run screaming to the FBI if some dark-skinned person wished them a "Joyous Eid al-Fitr," but think nothing of literally demanding that a Jew, Muslim or Hindu have a "Merry Christmas."

I have some very specific reasons for wishing folks "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas": (1) Most obviously, I don't always know the religious background of the person I am speaking to, so telling them to have a "Merry Christmas" is at best stupid and at worst insulting. Call this political correctness run amok if you must, but where I come from it's just called being considerate. (2) Christmas falls only on December 25th, and on every other day between Thanksgiving and New Years "Happy Holidays" is simply a more appropriate salutation. (I tend to wish my family "Merry Christmas" on the 25th, but other than that "Happy Holidays" makes more sense.) (3) The whole holiday season is linked more to seasonal cycles and ancient pagan rituals than it is to any religious event (and for what it's worth most scholars do not place Jesus' birth in the month of December anyway). So just be thankful I don't wish you a "Scintillating Solstice" and get over this whole "War On Christmas" nonsense.

With that joyous sentiment, I want announce that after Thanksgiving, I will be posting some Flowering Toilet Yuletide favorites. Some of it will be secular, some of it will be sacred, and a lot of it will be profane. By the time I'm done you should have enough holiday music to make a mix CD guaranteed to annoy any sanctimonious relatives. Then on January 1st 2007 it all disappears into the aether.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Death of Samantha

Death of Samantha's first two releases Painting Smiles On A Dead Man and Strungout on Jargon were highly derivative of fellow Cleveland residents Pere Ubu, and did very little for me. 1988's Were the Women Wear the Glory moved the band into less arty territory, and was better for it. Their 1989 swansong, Come All Ye Faithless was, in my opinion, their best effort with a number of stand-out tracks; "Roses Rejoice," "Rosenberg Summer," "Machine Language," and the track presented here, "New Soldier/New Sailor." Vocalist John Petkovic is still something of an acquired taste, but these are strong, catchy, guitar-driven tracks.

After Come All Ye Faithless, DoS either broke up, or added Don Depew to the lineup and changed their name to Cobra Verde. Later they became Robert Pollard's backing band in Guided By Voices while also continuing as Cobra Verde. "New Soldier/New Sailor" sounds a bit like Bowie-era Iggy Pop, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Trypes

The Trypes were an offshoot of The Feelies during the period of relative inactivity between the 1980 release of Crazy Rhythms and the release of the The Good Earth by a revamped Feelies lineup in 1986. The Trypes only release, The Explorer's Hold came in 1984 and anticipates the more pastoral turn The Feelies would take when they regrouped in 1986.

But this is not a Feelies release by any other name (though it almost smells as sweet). The Trypes sound is more keyboard dominated than the Feelies due to the presence of John Baumgartner, and the influence of The Velvet Underground is even more evident. After the Feelies moniker was re-activated (folding Trypes' bassist Brenda Sauter and percussionist Stanley Demeski into the reconstituted lineup), the Trypes morphed into Speed the Plough. Baumgartner would again collaborate with The Feelies/Trypes crew under the Yung Wu moniker led by Feelies drummer Dave Weckerman.

Confused? I haven't even explained where The Willies fit into all this, and I'm not sure I can. As far as I can tell, The Willies were an instrumental offshoot of The Feelies, but also the name The Feelies used for their appearance as the high-school reunion dance band in Jonathan Demme's 1986 Melanie Griffith vehicle, Something Wild. [Would someone please issue a deluxe version of the Something Wild Soundtrack with The Feelies/Willies wicked awesome versions of "I'm A Believer," "Fame," and "Before The Next Teardrop Falls"?]

Anyway, I spent years searching for this EP, and finally found a copy at the (sadly now defunct) Pier Platters in Hoboken. I paid what I thought was too much for it at the time (though in reality it was probably less than $20), but I figured I'd never see it again. A couple days later I found another copy at the (usually hideously overpriced) Bleeker Bob's for $5. Why does it always seem to work like that? You search for something for years, and then once you finally find it, it starts turning up everywhere for less money.

"(From the) Morning Glories" is a gently hypnotic number with a very Moe-Tuckeresque lead vocal by Brenda Sauter.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Camper Van Beethoven

There isn't much from the CVB vaults that isn't available. After falling out-of-print for a few years, all of their indie albums have been reissued through Spin Art with bonus tracks. Even the Camper Vantiquities rarities CD was given bonus tracks. And after years of threatening, the band even released their bad-joke cover of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk a few years ago (I'm sure it was hilarious at the time, but you probably had to be there and be stoned). Neither of the albums they released for Virgin have ever gone out-of-print, but then they've never been reissued with bonus tracks either, so there are a few rarities from the Virgin era. This cover of the Buzzcock's "Harmony In My Head" came out as a b-side on a promo-only 12" for "Turquoise Jewelery." This song would have in no way been appropriate to include on Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, but it's one of my favorite Buzzcocks songs, and this version does it justice. In certain respects this anticipates the more straight-ahead alt-rock sound that would characterize Lowery's work with Cracker.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Syd Straw

Syd Straw is not what one would call prolific; she has released only two (very good) albums in her career, 1989's Surprise and 1996's War and Peace. She also appeared with Marc Ribot on the Shimmy Disc Rutles tribute album, Rutles Highway Revisited, performing "I Must Be In Love." I won't go on and on about how the Rutles are actually better than the Beatles, but I will say that many of their songs easily transcend their comedic and derivative origins. That is certainly the case with "I Must Be in Love," which in its elegant simplicity captures the feelings associated with the first flush of new love as well as any other pop song I can think of (and that is saying a lot). Straw and Ribot smartly pare the song down to its essential elements, further emphasizing its simple beauty.

Syd Straw first came to my attention as a vocalist with The Golden Palominos, but she has never been a stranger to the field of entertainment. Her father Jack Straw (not the controversial British politician) was a film and TV actor most remembered for his role as "Prez" in The Pajama Game with Doris Day. And it is a little known fact that Syd provided backing vocals for some of Pat Bentar's biggest hits.

Finding an audience for Straw's music was always a tall order; quirkier than certain plain-vanilla popular female singer-songwriters, but not as self-consciously weird as Tori Amos or Kristen Hersh, Straw’s music has always been hard to pigeonhole. But her talent cannot be denied, and I think that if she had been more prolific it might have helped her find a larger audience. But then she may be happy with the audience she has.

I apologize for the poor sound quality, Shimmy Disc was never known for audiophile-quality LP pressings, and this album also suffered from obvious groove cramming. But a used CD of this could set you back around $50-$75, so don't complain. (Fortunately, Galaxie 500's epochal take on "Cheese and Onions" is available on their odds and sods CD, Uncollected.)

I Must Be In Love [right click to download]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Rosebloods

I can tell you very little about the Rosebloods. They released this song on a 7" single on the Pennsylvania garage-rock label, Get Hip in 1989. I think they were from Indiana. The sound of this song did not really match the stone-age, garage-rock vibe of most other Get Hip acts (The Cynics, The Stump Wizards, Thee Cellar Dwellers, The Heretics, etc.). This was more in a Byrdsian, jangle-pop bag with overtones of country rock. I think this is a very nice song; solid, tuneful indie-rock circa 1989. If anyone has any helpful nuggets of information about the Rosebloods, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Searching for Ron Klaus

Ron Klaus is something of an enigma. Let's review what is known about Ron Klaus: We know he had a party, we know he had a band, we know he had a thousand loving friends, and most importantly we know Ron Klaus, he wrecked his house. We know these things because of Big Dipper's 1988 college radio smash "Ron Klaus, He Wrecked His House" written by Ron's former Embarrassment band mate Bill Goffrier. But there is much we don't know. We don't know why he wrecked his house, we're only told "he had his reasons." We don't know what he did after he wrecked his house. Did his insurance cover any of the damage? Where did he live after wrecking his house? Was the house salvageable, or was it a total loss? Where is he now? Does he regret wrecking his house, or would he do it all over again if he had the chance? I was determined to find answers to these questions and more.

So I went searching for Ron Klaus. I had heard a rumor that he was now a captain of a whale watching ship on Cape Cod. So I started making some phone calls. After four wrong numbers I hit paydirt.

Me: Hello, Is this Ron Klaus?
RK: Yeah.
Me: Are you the Ron Klaus who wrecked his house?
RK: I guess so, yeah. What's it to you?
Me: Well, I was just curious about it, you know?
RK: It's really none of your f****'n beeswax. What do you care? Who are you?
Me: Well, it's just that, you know, there's the song "Ron Klaus, He Wrecked His House."
RK: What the f***k are you talking about? Are you a cop?
Me: No, It's just that your former band mate, Bill Goffrier wrote the song about you and...
RK: I've never been in a band, are you some kind of Moonie or something?
Me: Isn't this Ron Klaus, former bass player for the Embarrassment?
RK: Did you say Ron "Klaus"? This is Ron Kraus, K-R-A-U-S.
Me: Oh, uh sorry, I think I've got the wrong guy.
RK: Yeah, I think so dips**t.
Me: But you said you wrecked your house, what happened?
RK: I fell asleep smoking in bed and the house burned down. Then my wife left me and took the cat with her.
Me: I'm sorry to hear that.
RK: Don't ever call me again.

So that didn't work out too well, but I was undaunted. I decided to Google Ron Klaus to get some more information. I found a couple Ron Klauses, and I figured one of them had to be my guy.

First I called a Ron Klaus who is a helicopter pilot. I figured that someone got mixed up with the whale watch rumor, and Ron was really a helicopter pilot now.

Me: Hello, Is this Ron Klaus?
RK: Yeah.
Me: Ron Klaus, K-L-A-U-S?
RK: Yeah.
Me: Are you the Ron Klaus who wrecked his house?
RK: (Laughing) I get that a lot. No.
Me: Have you heard the song?
RK: Yeah, one of my buddies gave me the CD as gag. That song sucks.
Me: Oh, okay, well thanks.

So next, I tried a Ron Klaus who is an engineer and pastor. Could it be that after burning down his house that Ron Klaus went back to school, got a PhD in Engineering, then found God and became a pastor and a missionary? This was exciting! My mind was racing! Maybe Ron decided to study Engineering in order to design a house that couldn't be wrecked. And maybe he started preaching to warn young people about the evils of wrecking their house. There was a screenplay in this! Maybe a book too. This could be the next Beautiful Mind. But before I started writing my Oscar acceptance speech, I figured I should call Ron and get the skinny.

Me: (excited) Hello, is this the Ron Klaus who wrecked his house?
RK: No. (click)
Me: Hello? Hello?

Another dead end. I'm out of leads now, and Ron Klaus is perhaps even more of an enigma than when I started my search. If you have any information about the Ron Klaus who wrecked his house please let me know. I have questions that need to be answered, I have a screenplay to write. Hollywood needs me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Fun and Games - Elephant Candy

More bubblegum pop, this time courtesy of The Fun and Games. Listening to the lyrics I get the sneaking suspicion that Elephant Candy is either some sort of elicit substance or a euphemism for knockin' boots, or possibly a euphemism for knockin' boots while on some elicit substance. Then again maybe these guys were just really fond of the concessions stand at their local zoo. Maybe I'm just too suspicious.

Elephant Candy [Now reissued! click for Amazon link]

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Jazz Butcher

The Jazz Butcher reminds me of a more eclectic Lloyd Cole, or maybe a less weird Robyn Hitchcock. Or something. Anyway, 1988's Fishcotheque was the first Jazz Butcher (aka Pat Fish) solo album after the breakup of the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy. It was a darned good album. I hadn't listened to this in years, but I recently ripped my vinyl copy for iPod play and have been listening to it a ton. In the Salon article on the iPod, Fareed Manjoo claims that most people end up listening to only a select few songs on their iPod over and over. I have no way of knowing if that is true or not, but I can say unequivocally that the opposite has been true for me. Since I got my iPod I've been listening to a ton of stuff I haven't listened to in years. That was actually the impetus for starting this blog. As long as I was going to go through the bother of ripping my vinyl to digital, I might as well share some of it with the seven or eight other people in the world who also might want to hear it.

This is such a good album it was hard for me to pick just one song, so I picked two. I could have as easily picked any two tracks from the record. "Next Move Sideways," "Looking For Lot 49," "Keeping The Curtains Closed," "Get It Wrong," "Chickentown," and "Out Of Touch" are just as strong as the tracks I selected.

I chose "The Best Way" because it is least representative of the Jazz Butcher sound, and it is probably one of the funniest white rip-offs of "Rapper's Delight" ever recorded. I had always wondered why a British guy with a Philosphy degree from Oxford would interject "Praise Stuckey's!" into a song, considering Stuckey's is an exclusively American fast-food chain found mostly in the Southeast. Now I know why; he's actually saying "Prized Turkeys!" Frankly, I think "Praise Stuckey's!" works better. Does anyone know who the radio pitchman sampled in the song is?

"Susie" is much more typical Jazz Butcher fare, with the added attraction of The Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom on feedback drenched guitar. Fischcotheque is the only album I know of to name check both Lionel Ritchie and The Patti Smith Group. If you know of another please let me know, I'd like to hear it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ted, Woody, and Junior

This one is for Ted Haggard. Why is anyone surprised when it turns out that a virulently anti-gay preacher is a closet case? Anyone who is as publicly obsessed with gay sex as Haggard is obviously curious about it. All politics and liberal schadenfreude aside, I hope that one day Ted can understand that there is nothing wrong with the way God made him. No need to lock yourself in a closet and carve a scarlet "H" on your chest Ted, just jump into the bath with Woody and Junior, cover each other with soap, and work up a lather.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Squalls

When I first started this blog a friend of mine joked that I should post some Squalls rarities. I bet he didn't think I had any actual Squalls rarities. I'm sorry to say that I do. This track comes not from the Athens, GA soundtrack, or from either of their Dog Gone LPs, but rather from their super-rare, eponymous EP from 1984. Why do I have stuff like this?

Anyway, the EP is okay with more of an obvious "new wave" sound than their later LPs. Listening to this it is clear that the Squalls lacked a decent, or even distinctive, vocalist. Their first LP had a funny, super-sped-up, rap version of the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'." I remember playing it on my radio show in college and getting a call from an outraged Dead Head. If I actually managed to get a Dead Head worked up about something, or even harshed his buzz slightly, I feel like I performed a real public service.